Thursday, May 26, 2011

turkey wrap up:

What an amazing country! We were both we really looking forward to visiting Turkey, and it didn’t disappoint at all.
In fact I think I can safely say it has it all. Super friendly, genuine and helpful people, amazing food, bazaars and heaps of great shopping, loads of culture, the beautiful Aegean and Mediterranean Seas to the west, Black Sea to the north, plus an incredible history that spans thousands of years and some of the most interesting civilisations that existed.
There is so much to see and experience, we definitely will be back in the near future and would like to head further east and go into Iran.
We also found Turkey to be incredibly affordable and a great value for money destination (the strong Aussie dollar certainly helps).
So if you are thinking of heading to Turkey, do it! You won’t be disappointed at all.

where we went...

Below are a few tips from our Turkey travels:

We travelled around using buses, some overnight an others only a for a couple of hours. Turkey has an excellent bus network that links most towns and cities. It's a great way of seeing the country side in the day and is also very affordable. If catching an overnight bus though, pack some ear plugs, sleeping mask and inflatable neck cushion! Plus some snacks/drinks.
Istanbul also has a great light rail system that is cheap, reliable and frequent. A great way of getting around the city.

self-portrait on the metro

We chose to eat at mostly small cafés that were busya nd frequented by locals, rather than big touristy restaurants. This was far more more affordable and the food was amazing. To compare prices, a meal at a tourist aimed restaurant cost approximately  $50 for two (which is still quite affordable) but compare that to a meal such as gozleme or stuffed aubergine at a local café, this only cost around $7 for two (including drinks and salad)! There are many yummy meals and foods to try in Turkey, these were some of our favourites: borek, gozleme, fish sandwiches, kofte, kebabs, anything with aubergine, pide, baklava, rice pudding and Turkish delight.

gozleme - like a crepe, with many options for fillings.

We highly recommend the Peninsula Hotel in Istanbul. It was probably our favourite hotel on the entire trip. 45 euro got you a basic but clean, comfortable room with wi-fi and super friendly service. Plus it was a five minute walk to the blue Mosque and Aya Sofia. Another favourite was the Shoe String Cave hotel in Goreme (Cappadocia). Don’t let the name fool you -  the cave rooms were lovely and service incredibly helpful.

Shopping is my other passion when travelling (the other been photography of course), and Turkey is home to some fantastic shopping.  From carpets to beautiful jewellery, it has it all.
If a carpet or a kilim is what you are after:
  •  do a little bit of research before you go so you have a little bit of an idea of what you are after, also if there are any particular shops you may want to visit. It can be an overwhelming process, but there are genuine and sincere carpet sellers out there who are not out there to rip you off.
  • if the price seems really high, that’s probably because they want you to bargain.
  • don’t ever feel pressured to buy anything, enjoy having a tea, looking at their collection (working out what you like) and learning about carpets in the process. It’s all obligation free and can be a lot of fun.

If shopping for items in the grand bazaar or similar:
  • have a look around as multiple stores sell the same thing. Get them to quote you a price so you can kind of gauge where the best deal is.
  • once you find the cheapest price quoted, go back and start at a quarter of the price stated. If you can get the item for a third or half of what was originally quoted and you are happy with it, you’ve done well.
  • remember business is all about being win/win for both parties so everyone should be happy in the end. You don’t want to feel ripped off, neither does the vendor, they need to make a profit too.
the grand bazaar

The Turks are a super friendly and helpful bunch of people who can have a laugh with. So try not to let yourself be too closed off and untrusting. Trust them and be friendly – even to the touts! Andrew was really good at this, often joking and just saying hi back to those who were trying to sell him something, rather than the no eye contact, no thanks attitude (I was guilty of doing this at first). We met some super cool people by being open for a chat, so it was worth letting our guard down and being trusting. We weren't ever let down. Everyone did their utmost to help us out and ensure our stay in Turkey was brilliant.


  1. Such a helpful little post. You should try to do this for every country. I don't think we ever had gozleme when we were in Turkey! How did that happen? Or maybe we did and didn't know what it was called... it looks/sounds so yummy.

    * Julia

  2. Thanks Julia - will definitely try and do it for each country. Gozleme is sooo good! We didn't see it so much in Istanbul, more the other places we visited.

  3. i trekked thru turkey with friends for about 8 weeks in may/june 1990 – but without my husband – and had always thought i'd like to take him back there for a visit. i'd thought it'd be different now tho – it'd be more expensive, less friendly, more touristy... but your post confirms that it's still the same wonderful country that i remember. thankyou for the post... ahh the memories!

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